Phillips played regularly at both second base and shortstop for the A’s in 1983-84, leading the club in games each year, but has been plagued by a series of freak injuries that have kept him a part-time player ever since. Originally signed by the Expos, Phillips was traded to the Padres organization for Willie Montanez in 1980, then traded to the A’s in 1981. He began the 1983 season as Oakland’s starting shortstop, then moved to second when Donnie Hill arrived in mid-season, only to move back the following year when Hill went down with an injury. In 1985 Phillips broke his foot twice before the season started and did not play until August, and in 1987 he had his wrist broken by a Mark McGwire line drive in batting practice. In between, he became the first Oakland A’s player to hit for the cycle on May 16, 1986 at Baltimore, and on July 6, 1986 he tied the ML record with 12 assists in a nine-inning game at second base. In 1988 Phillips was a utility player for the AL champion A’s, playing most often at third base and in the outfield.